Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Rewards of Being a Stalker, Or, What Happens When You Get Off the China Cabinet

I'm not Catholic, but I always experience a Catholic amount of guilt when things are going my way.

The passivity of that sentence belies how much space I put between myself and my successes--"when things are going my way."

The truth is that things don't just go my way. I make things go my way.

I bend the universe to my will. :)

Well, if I'm being terribly honest, it is more of a collaboration of sorts. The universe opens up opportunity, and I work my butt of to take advantage of that opening. In writing, for sure, but also in relationships with other writers.

I always feel guilt when I talk about the wonderful time I had at the NESCBWI conference. I know that not everyone has the opportunity to attend a conference. And I know that not everyone has cultivated the relationships which I have.

Some people are hanging out like this:

And, I get that. It's nice up there. Comfy. There's even a cat bed. One could hide up there and be all cozy, and say, "I don't have time to blog. Being up here, it's better for me just to focus on my writing. I don't need relationships with others to get my writing life to the next level. I'm afraid to put myself out there, and talk to _______ (fill in the blank with your scariest scenerio: an agent, a publisher, another writer, an author)."

At the conference, I met lots of wonderful people, some just starting out in this writing thing, and some from my established writing community. When people asked me how to start their own writing community, I had to think about how things had gotten rolling for me.

What I came up with was that I did a lot of stalking and supporting others. I actively grabbed people who I thought were kindred spirits, and I still spend a lot of time trying to figure out what will help get others to the next level. I never have the time to do everything that I wish I could, but I help when I can. I hope it's enough.

My advice? When you find someone you think is wonderful, stalk them. :)

Invite them to coffee (virtual or otherwise--gchat is a great coffeehouse). Email them. Tell them what you really think of them (people love to hear that you think they are awesome). Be honest. Be respectful. Comment on their blogs. Read their manuscripts.

Spend your time investing yourself into others and their careers.

Because this is awfully hard to do alone.

The proof that this works? I stalked this guy after following the amazing comments he left around the blogosphere. I up and asked this rock star to coffee (IRL) after saying something like, "I know you don't really know me--I'm really not an ax murderer." I asked this lovely lady, and this one, for help when I found it hard to put my butt in the chair. We write together, virtually, and IRL (love the local library). This amazing writer I stalked off of a comment she left on Nathan Bransford's blog. Talk about a needle in a haystack! And, I can't say enough about this brilliant writer, who I've been stalking since before I even started blogging.

We had an unbelievable time at the conference. Me and my stalkees:

Laura, Jennifer, me, Erinn, Ansha, Alicia
Nandini and Alicia

Kris, Laura, Ansha, and Jennifer
Thanks, everyone, for making NESCBWI12 unforgettable! I love you all.

I'm trying not to feel guilty about having such wonderful writers in my corner. Because I have worked hard to make it so. :)

When I get off the cabinet, and put in the hard work to maintain relationships, it feels like this:

Even cozier, right?

So, tell me, do you have any awesome stalking stories? Are you just starting out developing your own community? Were you at the NESCBWI? Have you considered stalking? :) Do you find it hard to get off the china cabinet?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Rock the Drop!

Yesterday, I went to my beloved Indie book store and picked up two YA books. Then in my travels, I left them out in a public place, for a teen to find and pick up. The rain hampered my book destinations, as did my inability to be in all places at once. :)

While stopping for food for the sitter (a teen boy) and my three kids, I set the books down on a bench outside of a Five Guys Burgers. I'm itching to send a teen out to see if they were picked up.

Here's the evidence:



The notes read: If you are a teen, then this book is for YOU. Happy reading. #rockthedrop 

Inside, Cowgirl and Superman rocking the markers.

What do you think? Good picks?

I might put a call out to other Natick writers to send their teens over to see if the books are still there. :) (I'm looking at you, Nandini and Martha!) Is that cheating?

Thanks to Readergirlz for inspiring us to Rock the Drop!

And capping off the fun yesterday was a fabulous dinner with some wonderful writers. Thanks to Marissa, Kip, Alicia, Michele, Kyla, and Nandini for coming out and sharing the laughs last night!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Stopping Mid


I thought this a fitting topic today, since I stopped blogging for an entire month.

*waving furiously to everyone*

I'm back, but still giving most of every waking free moment to writing, so if I disappear, you'll know why.

Now, back to the topic at hand.

I've recently enjoyed reading Patrick Carman's books. My younger kids are loving the quirkiness of FLOORS, and my older son and I have blown through TRACKERS, SKELETON CREEK, DARK EDEN, and his multimedia series, 3:15.

I love how Carman weaves internet and movie experiences into his books. I agree with what he says in this video (TEDx NYED event) that most books should continue to be just what they are. But, for really important reasons, some books should include a mash of medias.

I love thinking about the internet and app opportunities for my works-in-progress. I hope other writers are considering these as well.

However, I have a bone to pick with Mr. Carman. :)

I despise when books stop mid story. I don't mean dropping a bomb or twist at the end of a book so that there can be a book 2, or 3, in the series. What I'm talking about is when you dangle your main characters off a cliff and then print 'THE END'.

Immediately after reading a book of his which does this (and not all of them do), and while feeling as frustrated as I do about it, I still run right out and grab the next book in the series. These books are wonderfully compelling, and I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.

Which might just be the point.

And, the books which end mid story also contain enough amazing online magic, that I have to forgive Mr. Carman outright. The online benefits outweigh my frustration, I think. :)

My son, on the other hand, doesn't acknowledge that there is anything to forgive. He just wants to read the next book as soon as possible. Which, in itself, is magical. To get a reluctant reader to pick up a second book. To keep the books short enough to engage a reluctant reader in the first place.

I think Mr. Carman has struck an amazing chord with his multimedia books. I am willing to forgive him the faux pas of ending mid-cliffhanger, and I will continue to drop his books into the hands of my almost-teenager. And continue to read them myself. :)

What do you think? Does it frustrate you when a book ends mid story? Do you feel like that is a legitimate gimmick for getting a reader to pick up another book? Or, is it more nefarious? Do you feel as though an author who goes the extra mile, with movie clips, or interactive online material has earned a bit of leeway?

And, I haven't checked in to see what everyone is working on--what are your goals for the writing week?

If you are in NE, are you pumped for #nescbwi? Woot! Sleepover!

I'm virtually hugging you all right now, for not abandoning my blog in my long absence! Even when I take a blogging break, it is the connection to all of which keeps me writing!