A reading list from a child of the 80s and a teen of the 90s

My husband, Steve, is pretty smart. We had a conversation about my writing and what kind of projects I’d enjoy working on next. He asked, “Well, what kind of books did you want to read when you were a kid? Write one like that.”

It seems silly, but I never really put it into perspective that way. Of course in the 80s and 90s teen books were quite different than they are now. We didn’t need some super flashy action sequence or a hero’s quest in our books. We had nice, slice of life books that made you connect to the characters – at least that’s the kind of books I liked.

So here’s a small list of books that I remember enjoying.

Elementary School:

Middle School:

High School:

Bottom line: no fantasy. Yes, I liked some of the horror and mysteries, and as I was older the dark and emotional, but no dragons, wizards, elves, etc. I liked books that I could connect with, and books that dealt with “creatures” always felt weird and wrong to me. In fact, I remember being grossed out when we watched the cartoon version of The Hobbit, and they talked about the hair on their feet. And the dwarf peeing on the wall of in Labryinth? Grody to the max, man.

If you’d like to dig up your 80s and 90s teen book past, here’s a handy list of paperbacks to browse through. I know I recognize a lot of them from back then. Also, it just occurred to me – Where did we buy our books in the 80s anyway? Barnes and Noble wasn’t in our tiny Midwestern town, that’s for sure.

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Moving on from writing rejection

Tyne Bridge getting ready for The Great North Run 2014

I was another writer who did not get chosen for a mentor during PitchWars. I had some great feedback that can really help me in my revisions and future books. It’s a subjective process and one contest shouldn’t make me feel down in the dumps about the work I’d done so far. After all, I entered the contest when my brain told me to not bother because no one would be interested anyway. Now that I know that I’ve not been chosen, I can just pick up where I left off and keep going.

You believing any of this? Nah, didn’t think so.

I was upset. I cried on the phone to my folks in Florida about how no one wanted my work. I didn’t want to do anything. I stayed in bed, I felt sorry for myself, I contemplated why I was writing what I was writing, who it was for, what it was for, and if I should just try something totally different. Seriously, the sadness wasn’t just from not being chosen so much as that it stopped my mojo from flowing. Since Wednesday, I have been so weepy and wallowing in my self pity because I didn’t know if I should keep working on this big series book project I wanted to do, or just set it aside and do something completely different.

I sort of still don’t know.

I know quitting is not an option because, seriously, how would I spend my time if it weren’t working on a book, or writing notes for another book project? (I have too many notes and plans for books to ignore them at this point anyway.)

But, I do think it’s perfectly okay to take a step back and reflect on what you’re doing. I know all the motivational quotes in the world about never giving up and how failure isn’t an option and how rejection is all part of the game. However, it’s hard to be positive all the time, especially when you’re just having a crummy week and the rejection letter sort of solidifies your belief that, yes, things just suck right now.

So, as a help to you and myself, I’ve comprised a little list of articles regarding rejection to help us all get through the painful process.

I hope that everyone who was rejected for PitchWars still participates in PitMad on Monday, Sept 9th. Personally, I’m just going to put some queries out to prove to myself that I’m moving on, getting back on the horse, not letting it get me down, and all that junk.

Here are a couple of resources for helping you write a good Twitter pitch:

And finally, here’s a motivational speech from Sly Stallone:

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The end of the summer holidays

Sunset by the pond

It’s a sad, but true statement – the summer holidays are almost over.

I really enjoyed this month off because I did get my last book done and my CP helped me edit, so that right there means I had a productive break.

So now I’ll be heading back to school on Tuesday (Monday is a teacher day, so there’s nothing for non-teachers to do.) I’ll be back in my same classroom, with a different teacher and a different set of kids. At least I get to be there on the first day to see how another teacher handles it. These are things I was never taught during my Florida teacher training.

I’ve decided not to take the Maths and English courses that I signed up to do this term. Since the tutoring didn’t do much, I’m going to get my own study books, teach myself the test, then sign up for the appointment-based tutoring sessions again. I still don’t understand why England is so against people making their own decisions about things: I can’t just sign up to take the Level 2 tests when I want to. I have to have a tutor pre-assess me first, evaluate my scores, then decide if I’m ready to take the real test.

These are the kinds of things I dearly miss about the US – the freedom to do what you want, when you want. There’s no middle man to go through.

But, anyway, I’ll be writing as usual during this school term, but I’m thinking I’m not going to do NaNoWriMo this November. (Though, I’ll probably end up starting it because it helps me get going.) Since I finished my last manuscript, I’ve not known exactly where I want to go next. I usually finish a book, then want to move on to something else immediately and forget about the old project. I’m impatient like that.

So that’s my small update on what I did over my summer break. (Finished a book, went to London, and read a lot – I dearly love being left to my own devices.) Hope you all have a wonderful autumn.

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The #AmWriting Birthday Party

Notebook

What is #amwriting. I always figured it was short for “I am writing.” But our leader of the community, Johanna, writes in the early morning. I was afraid for a while that my afternoon and morning tweets were null and void.

Luckily, the #amwriting community for all of us who are writing – in the morning, noon, evening, or too late or too early to really know.

I started using the hashtag a while ago when I was first embracing the self-publishing world. I was surprised how many indie (and traditionally published) authors there were on Twitter. It was intimidating and frustrating at first, but then I realized that with the #amwriting hashtag I can easily tag any random questions, word count updates, or worries about editing. It works so much better than having my updates (or, random whining, if you will) getting lost in the sea of Twitter updates on my followers’ timelines.

So, thank you, #amwriting community, for giving me a community of like-minded writers who are just a hashtag away.

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When you’re the only one who likes your story idea

Yachts from Holland at the Quayside.

“I don’t think it’s good for your head – if you spend a lot of time writing about a book, you probably shouldn’t be talking about it, you should be doing it.” Cormac McCarthy

Last night on the phone my mother asked me what my current WIP was. When I told her, she said, “Why would you want to write about that?”

This has been one of the most frustrating things in my writer-hood. The ideas I love, people don’t get when I tell them, and the ones I think are kind of dumb, people think are great.

Has anyone else noticed that the stories that they find the least compelling, are the ones you’re most encouraged to write about?

When I attended the online writing workshop a year or so ago, I proposed two story ideas: on YA and one MG. The one I felt the strongest about wasn’t as well received as the one idea I had that seemed rather thin and flimsy.

I proposed my stronger idea, the Middle Grade novel, to another group at the library workshop later. I didn’t give them another option, and they seemed to understand where I was coming from and how I could make it interesting.

I’ve written a little of both, but I’ve written way more on the MG novel than the YA book idea that the first writing workshop teacher and students seemed more interested in. Sure, it may be a good idea, but I really just didn’t know how to get about doing it. I tried at least three times to just start the story right, and even had a CP look at the first chapter – she was just as confused as I was about what I was trying to do as I was. In fact, I tried to make the YA book my NaNo project for the fall last year and I choked. I didn’t like that I was trying to write something I wasn’t sure about, and I wasn’t happy about trying to fit it all in with the hero’s quest as the workshop had told me.

So, what do you do?

Agents and publishers don’t want the same old thing (supposedly), but readers are still reading vampire books even though we’re told that we shouldn’t bother with them anymore. We shouldn’t have The Chosen One, or pirates, or treasure hunters, or werewolves, or set anything in a dystopian setting either. But, look at the top 100 Kindle sales. People are still reading books like this, and writers still enjoy writing them.

Frankly, I can’t, like just physically can’t get the words out if I don’t have a clear idea of what I want to have happen. That has to be my own decision and something I really see clearly. The writing is the main thing, so I’m just going to stick with what I like doing.

Besides, didn’t King say something about if you write for the market and get published from it, you’re not going to be able to keep it up?

Time and time again we’ve heard that the writer has to be involved with their work so the reader can sense it. I guess it’s better to keep it to ourselves and get the job done.

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