Category Archives: Books

‘13 Reasons Why’ Glamorizes Suicide, And That Is Not Okay Killing yourself won’t hurt your bullies BY JENNIFER WRIGHT · APRIL 21, 2017

here’s the link to this article that I would love for as many people as possible to read.

http://www.nylon.com/articles/13-reasons-why-glamorizes-suicide

 

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What could save a boring author photo

I’ve been pushing the idea of taking an author photo around in my head for some time.  Mostly I keep thinking of how boring it sounds, sitting around while someone takes pictures of me, hoping to get a good smile, both eyes open, and may it please the publisher, catching a spark of intelligence in my countenance.

When I look through books and see author photos I think, what does what they look like have to do with the stories they write?  Nothing.  But then I decided it could be a fun thing.  You know, add a cool hat, or a kids tiara, I even snapped a selfie the other day with a pencil up my nose.  (Yes I regressed to age ten, I blame FB)  My friends found it amusing, but I doubt a publisher would agree.

And then it hit me.  I can have a regular, everyday author photo, yawn, but in the background I want Jennifer Lawrence photobombing.  I like that she’s not only doing this to other actors and such, but at places where everyone is supposed to be proper and on their best behaviour.  I would choose Jennifer or Sir Ian McKellan.  I will be seen as the hard-working writer, but one who doesn’t take herself so seriously, that she’d release a photo of herself with ‘Richard III’ snarling in the background.

When the universe says, “read this book”

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak was recommended to me by two different strangers.  One was while I was browsing in a book shop, and the other came online.  I looked it up, saw that it was set in WWII and thought, “I don’t feel like being depressed” and I let the idea of reading the story go.

My local library had a used book sale, that we almost missed because they haven’t been putting up early notices like they used to.  Only because my voracious-reader-twelve-year old really wanted a requested book, did I drive to the library on a Friday night.  It was the ‘members only’ preview of the books for sale.  Of course I joined up right then and we took a nice leisurely look-see of what was on offer.

I’ve been keeping an especial eye out for a Ken Follett book, in paper or hardback, and my daughter has been jones’n for Rick Riordan books.  No such luck.  No Follett, no Riordan, no good biographies (in my opinion), and blammit only the kind of cookbooks I have zero interest in.  When lo, The Book Thief winked at me from a low shelf of paperbacks for grown ups.  Turns out a lot of YA fiction was in the wrong place, but that was the only one I wanted.  You see, three hints is the charm.  Two suggestions and a lone copy in a sea of books I didn’t want, it was like a nudge to the back of the head, and the admonition, ‘Didn’t you hear the first two suggestions?’

How many books have had Death as the narrator, done so cleverly, and with a perfect lilt of poetry?  I admire Liesel, the main character, and how resilient she is.  I find myself swimming in the ebb and flow, feeling the cold, the bite of hunger and the humor of Rudy Steiner.

I havent finished the story yet, it is not an emotionally easy read, and I want to savor the parts I like.  Not just the characters, but the artistry the author has composed around them, and not lose their flavor to any disappointment that will come if it ends badly for Liesel, Max and the rest, as it probably will.  After all, when Death is telling a story, no matter how beautifully, do I really expect it to end happily?

I recommend it.  I am thanking the Universe.  I absolutely will pay closer attention in the future.

the art of the review

The point of leaving a review is to inform a potential reader what you liked or did not like in a book.

I’ve hesitantly re-animated my Goodreads account to help me find books in specific genres.  It can be helpful to avoid stories that aren’t what I’m looking for.  My problem is reviews are hard to follow.  I understand.  Even a professional reviewer can turn into a troll.

When I first joined a writer’s group, I’d listen and think how awful the story sounded.  Yes, I’m aware they probably thought the same of my work.  It made reading my work, and hearing the work of others uncomfortable to say the least.  The guidelines we follow in that group have helped me immensely in seeing the great bits of writing in a piece, leaving feedback to writers across the table from me, and how to edit my own work based on critique.  One more,  it’s also helped me to find books I enjoy.

Point out the good stuff.  When a review tells me what the best parts of a story are, and there is almost always something good in a piece of writing, if I like that sort of thing, I might give the book a try.   For example; the sense of flow, dialogue, description, there might be a poetic sense to the writing here and there, etc.,.  It took some practice before I was able to locate these, but now that I can life is so much better.  Why you ask?  Because a writer wants to know, not just what didn’t work, but what did, and so does a potential reader.  The person reading a review might like the very thing I hate, or find they love the same stories.  Also, as a human, who creates and shares that work with others, the point is to encourage that writer to keep writing, chances are they will anyway, don’t you want them to consider a possible change for the better?

When something in the book doesn’t work for you as a reader, say why.  Please don’t cast aspersions on the writer’s intelligence, or leave it at, “It sucked, whatever”.  As a possible reader, I want to know if you felt the main character was believable, or did you feel the whole thing was bogged down in description.  This requires considering the parts and breaking a few of them down, rather than labeling the whole book a ‘hot mess’.  Please keep in mind, most writers have developed a rather thick skin.  But behind the inanimate book, stands a human being.

Which leads me to wondering who reads a book they think they’ll dislike?  I keep seeing this on reviews, “I thought I’d hate this and I did.”  If something isn’t your thing, accept that and read something else.  I give points to a reader for trying a new literary flavor, or giving a generally disliked genre another chance, those reviews may bring in other new readers.  That said, I do not understand why anyone would force themselves to read something they didn’t find any joy in, and then disgorge a nasty review.  That just sort of mucks things up.

I learned that I read some books for different reasons than others.  Some say they read for the romance of a story, even if it’s listed as fiction (enter sub category here), and not romance in particular.  Others might say they like the gory bits, or the creepy nightmares it gave them.  Something I like to avoid.  Shudders.  That bit of information can be useful to a potential reader as well as the writer.

One thing a reader/reviewer should be aware of is the following.  The writer has already gone through a multitude of feedback, edits, and so on.  I’m not saying every published, self published, and indie published book is perfect.  I’m saying, it’s a finished product.  And I’m not talking about typos and punctuation.  I’m talking about content.  You won’t see George R.R. Martin hesitating to kill a Stark.  Sure you can leave a review saying you hated to see Ned get the ax, it certainly shocked the heck out of me, but don’t write it with the attitude of someone who knows better.  (And don’t tell/order/beg him to not kill Arya.  There are more books coming)  Ehem.  The reader is a guest to the party.  Yes, a writer can glean information here and there, but most don’t write to make readers happy, they write the story they are moved to tell.

Lastly, reviewing books in this way has helped me become a bit more discerning and broadened my reading horizons.  Although I still can’t get past the first chapter of Neal Stephenson’s, Anathem.  I suspect I lack the grey matter for it, but I bet people who see math in colors, and what have you, love it.  It’s exciting to find new books I enjoy, and how much faster I can spot what I don’t like, so I can get lost in a story I do like.  And you thought the Hokey Pokey was what it was all about.  There are a TON of stories out there, it’s a bit like the mother of all treasure hunts, so what are you waiting for?  Grab a book and bon voyage!

The Next Big Thing

Author Linda Cassidy Lewis, tagged me to answer these questions about my work in progress. This author meme is called The Next Big Thing. Please read Linda’s responses about, An Illusion of Trust, her next big thing here,

http://lindacassidylewis.com/2013/03/15/the-next-big-thing/

What is the working title of your next book?  I’ve been calling this story, the first in a trilogy, Book of Rachel – Requiem Dreams.

Where did the idea come from for the book?  I had an incredibly vivid dream of the story and near the end of that dream, I saw myself at my desk with a woman standing over me telling me to, ‘write this story down’.  I’ve felt awkward about this fact until I read that Stephen King got the idea for Misery in a dream, and so I figured it probably happens fairly often.

What genre does your book fall under?  The genre for this story is Young Adult Fiction.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?  I’ve seen Maisie Williams playing Arya Stark in Game of Thrones, and she could breathe life into Rachel which, to me, is worth far more than finding a mirror image of the character I have in my mind.

I would also love to see Rachel Weiss play the mother,  Jane.  Jane grew up in Great Britain, she’s beautiful and she mistakes her unbending, over controlling behavior as concern for her daughter.  I haven’t seen everything Ms. Weiss has done, but she often plays a woman who is fiercely determined and kind, which Jane has under layers of ice as it were.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  Rachel Maclean hides the fact that she has precognitive nightmares in a desperate bid to avoid being sent back to where they started.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  My book is in the final polishing stages and I’m creating a query letter to send to potential agents.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?  I’d say it took about nine months to a year for me to write out a complete first draft.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  I’ve made a point to avoid reading stories that sound even remotely similar to my own.  The only exception is a newly released story called Pivot Point by Kasie West, where the main character has the ability to see two possible future outcomes and is able to choose one.  I read this story because Kasie and I were in the same writer’s group a few years back and I always enjoyed her work.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?  Life is a huge inspiration, but I also haven’t forgotten the woman in the dream telling me to write the story down.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?  There’s a bevy of things to enjoy in this story: an outspoken best friend, a sweet boyfriend, and a paranormal gift Rachel has had for as long as she can remember.  Add to that an unethical psychiatrist, and a worldwide pharmaceautical corporation who think they’ve created a drug that brings about precognition and will be worth billions.

I’ve had the pleasure of reading the work of the two authors I’ve tagged,

Mariam Kobras, author of The Distant Shore, and, Under The Same Sun.

http://mariamkobras.blogspot.com/

Sam Hilliard, author of The Last Track

http://www.samhilliard.com/wordpress/

A nerd finds inspiration

When it’s time to pick myself up and dust myself off and get back in the game, I often like a little theme music to go with it.  I’m partial to Dory the fish singing “Just Keep Swimming”, but that’s because I have kids.  The nerd in me looks to the last Star Trek film, how in hell did Kirk keep getting up?  I know, I know, it was scripted, plus it had marvelous music.  More times than not the soundtrack is playing, okay, blasting in my car, especially track five.

There’s also the part of me that needs to go a little deeper, and that’s when I read how other people in real life manage to continually get back on their feet, literally and spiritually speaking.  I very much enjoy reading “Eat Pray Love”.  I won’t compare it to the movie, because I’ve never seen all of the film.  And to be truthful, I haven’t read all of the book, yet.  However, from what I’ve seen and what I’ve read, there are simply many thoughts the movie cannot convey.

I’m near the end of her time in India and frankly, I look at this book as full of Spring days (that make me crave pizza) and I’m parceling them out for when I need them.  Why you might ask?  The answer also happens to be my favorite thing about the book, the humor a very close second.  My favorite thing about this book is that she never gives up.  Yes she gets bogged down a bit here and there, but overall she continues to ask herself, how do I get out of this and keep going?  And that’s really all any of us can do, is to keep using the tools we have, or try new ones, so we can untangle whatever we’ve gotten ourselves tied up in.

Lately, as I spend a lot of time with my mom, she got a brand new left knee a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been her helper, I’ve found myself needing reminders to take deep breaths as my patience gets tested.  I pull out the book, which I can relate to on many levels, and read a bit, and remember to not give up on finding love and compassion in every moment, for myself as well as everyone else.  And now I have to dash, she has a physical therapy class to attend.

Sex and females in YA fiction – II

I had a bunch of other things I was toying with blogging about, but what I really want to ask is, has anyone else noticed that when a teen girl in a YA  book has sex, the proclivity is for circumstances to punish her for it?

What I mean is this.  Is there a YA book out there where a teen girl has consensual sex and does not suffer some kind of physical or emotional fall-out from that act?  Specifically, no accidental pregnancy, no STD, no rape, no clinical depression or even suicide.

I’ve been reading a Lot of YA books, since I was a young adult and recently.  While I don’t want to name particular titles, I have to say if there’s a human female in there who is sexual, woe onto her.  I haven’t read every YA fiction that’s out there, not by a long shot, but so far nothing good comes to those who have sex.  Off the top of my head, there’s been a possible suicide, a definite suicide, rape, and so on and so forth.

There aren’t a lot of YA books dealing with this at all, and I understand the desire to avoid that topic, especially if it’s not a key part of the story.  But, there are so many girl crush books out there where the couple only kisses, maybe.  Which is fine, but they ring false in that they rarely deal with how hard it is for teenagers to fight their hormones.  Yes, a pushy boy is often mentioned, but, I’m just going to say it, girls have hormones too.

I’m not putting down the books that deal with rape and situations where it may arise, those things need to be written and talked about.  From where I’m standing though, it does look as if the field is uneven.  So much about the dangers and very little or nothing about what can go right.  Shouldn’t there be a contemporary story where the couple go over the risks, cover their bases and enjoy their first time together?

I’m not saying I advocate teens having sex.  I don’t.  That being said, I do stand firmly on the side of educating kids on ALL options because I understand nature is a tough cookie sometimes.  Expecting young adults to abstain out of fear doesn’t strike me as a good solution.

Is there a book out there where a teen girl, or even a boy, can have consensual sex without obviously suffering for it afterwards that has been published in the last ten years?