When you don’t ‘get it’

As a writer and lover of books, I do a lot of reading. Some books I read for pure enjoyment; others I read to study the author’s style. Some I read because the author is a personal or cyber friend and I want to support them. Some I read because they come highly recommended from other friends and reviewers.

Sometimes the books click. And sometimes they don’t.

This post is about the ones that don’t. One in particular, no matter how hard I tried I just didn’t ‘get it’. The reviews, and there were hundreds, were all either five or four star crowdreviews. The author is respectable and likable and has a good following so the book hadn’t been penned by someone who just threw something out there.

But I didn’t ‘get it’.  The reviews glowed with praise. I went back and re-read the reviews to make sure we were talking about the same book.  I even re-read some of the book (which I couldn’t finish) to see if I had ‘missed something’ — like maybe a disclaimer saying the author was experiment with a new style. Show don’t tell, point of view, dialogue that actually sounds real. Nope. All the things that transcends genres, all the things that were drilled into my head years ago as a new writer were thrown out the window. But apparently I was the only one who noticed.

in-friends-as-Monica-Rachel-jennifer-aniston-and-courteney-cox-9580692-465-337Remember the sitcom Friends? Remember the episode where Rachel can’t see her baby in the ultrasound? The doctor and Ross are ooohhhing and ahhhing over the tiny shrimp like baby, while Rachel pretended to “see it” only to break down, sobbing, she couldn’t ‘see it’. It made her feel like a failure as a mother before the baby was even born. The scene was hilarious, and oh so real.

Sometimes it ‘clicks’ and sometimes it just doesn’t. Are there books out there that you just don’t get?

The proper way to kill people

On paper of course. In fiction. Like in a murder-mystery. Now that we’ve got that cleared up.

Crime shows like Castle, Bones, Blue Bloods, Southland, Hill Street Blues, and the list goes on and on…make up a good portion of most watched television. Why? Because they’re entertaining. Some aren’t entirely believable, but they are fun to watch. gmom is amazing and i love her very much – HA! – editorial comment inserted by granddaughter Ava. Back murder1to the story…mystery writers love crime/detective/police procedural shows and that’s great. As long as you’re just watching to enjoy and not using them for your research. If you are, it’s a lazy way of writing. Stop doing it right now.

There are way too many resources available to help with your research for you to write your mystery using a television show as a guide. Because most of the shows on television get it wrong. Sometimes with cringe-worthy results.

Many moons ago when I first turned in a manuscript for critique, I was scolded for having a flower bloom at the wrong time in the wrong place. The critique partner wasn’t being picky—she was being thorough. I was being lazy and picked some random flower that didn’t even grow in my settling. I lost a little bit of my butt and a lot of my credibility.

And as writers, we know what happens when a you lose credibility with a reader. They put the book down and will hesitate, if not refuse to, read your next one.

murder-mystery-partyLearn the difference between a revolver and semi-automatic. Learn the dynamics of what happens to a person when shot—no, they aren’t blown backwards like you’ve seen a thousand times on television. They drop straight to the ground. Learn terminology. Learn the legal system—no, you don’t have to study law but knowing when a warrant is needed and when it’s not is a good thing.

Two of my favorite resources are Crime Scene Writer Yahoo Group and the Writers Police Academy. The Crime Scene group is populated by experts in many fields and they’re more than willing to help with your questions. No matter how odd. Trust me. Murder-graphic-008

And as a side note, I’ll be presenting a program for my Sisters in Crime/Murder We Write chapter on writing crime fiction and getting “it” right Sunday, Nov. 17 from 2-4pm at the High Point Public Library. I’ll be discussing some of the resources available to help you get it right.

 

 

The big head and poopy diapers

The Rising was released Friday. I changed poopy diapers. It was an all day event. Not the diapers, the release. Well, ok, maybe the diapers, too.

I had a “cyber” release day party on Facebook and it was a blast. Lots of fun. Lots of cyber pats-on-the-back. Less humble authors may have gotten a big head with all the attention. But I know my place in the grand scheme of things. This week brought several reminders.

Like Paisley asking me where I was going to work when I grow up.

Emma1
My darling Emma. She calls it like she sees it.

Or this little conversation with Emma…

Emma: Grandma, how many more books are you going to write before I’m twenty? (she’ll be 8 in November)

Grandma (me):  I don’t know. I hope a bunch.

Emma:  Probably not a whole whole bunch because you may be real old by then and already dead.

Or this from Aiden (said with a sour look on his face): Poop.

Ava
Nothing stands between Ava and snack time

Or from Ava…I was tickled to see a picture of my book in a shipping box on Facebook so I called to Ava to come look…her response was something along the line of, “Uh-huh. Can I have a snack now?”

Again from Aiden: Poop.

And Ivy: Me go poop.

Sigh. What can I say? They keep me humble.

What keeps you humble?

 

 

Time to stop the bitchin’

I’m probably going to stomp on some toes with this but it’s been a’brewing. I’m starting to see a trend and it’s getting under my skin. I have several writer friends who are enjoying the fruit of their labor with the release of their books. Cool. I’ll be right there with them next week with the official release of The Rising. Yeah!

But the last few weeks I’ve found myself “with them” in more ways than one. Bitching. Moaning. Griping. And over all complaining about the amount of work that goes into not just writing the book, but marketing the book. I spent an entire “work” day (meaning total of 8 hours) finalizing a blog tour. Yeah, yeah, yeah…my eyes were crossed when I finished. So what? Stop pissing and moaning about it. Nobody made me market this book. I’m marketing it because, well, I want people to actually read it. They can’t read it if the only place it’s available is on my laptop or in a file drawer.

Ivy2
We have to pitch a few fits before we…

So then we have to back up and question just why we write in the first place. Yeah, yeah, yeah…we’ve all got a story to tell. We like creating characters who live in imaginary worlds. We visualize scenes and whole chapters, complete with soundtrack. But ask yourself who are you writing for? If it’s your family and a few friends, why worry yourself sick about the editing and the cover design and the back cover blurb? Just write it and be done with it. If you’re writing for an audience larger than will fit in your living room, you have to stress about all these other things. But – here’s the kicker – no one is making you do it!

We writers are an odd bunch. I personally think we tend to be a bit passive-aggressive, or bi-polar, or down right unrealistic at times. Yes – please – buy my book! Damn – this marketing! You like it? You really like it? Crap – a bad review. How could they not like it? I’ll just go to bed now and pull the covers over my head, And cry. Crap – forgot about Twitter. Need to reply to those DMs. I just want to write! What the heck is Instagram? Do I have to post pictures? Interact. Just be yourself. Well, myself tends to be a bit of an introvert so how am I supposed to do that oh great Marketing God?

I have friends that say treat writing and marketing like a “real” job. Some even say work only 8 hours a day, like most “normal” people. Well, you know what…it’s not a real job and we’re not normal people. A true writer is never really off the clock because we’re constantly thinking about the dialogue, visualizing the next scene, playing what if. We can’t shut off our brain like some people shut down their computers before punching out for the day. We don’t have a time clock that tells us we’re “done for the day.”

Ivy1
…realize it’s really not that bad

But – no one is making us do it. We do it because somewhere in the far corners of our brains, we like it. We like the creating. We like the ego boost of a five star review. We like the pat-on-the-back.  So stop acting like you don’t. Stop acting like it’s a freakin’ chore to dig up more Twitter followers so maybe they’ll buy your book. If you didn’t want people to buy your book, why’d you publish it in the first place? The oh so poor tortured writer is so cliche’. Get over yourself. And I’ll get over myself too. And maybe, just maybe, we can together stop pretending we’re so over-burdened with the business of writing, we’ve lost the joy of writing itself.

So, I’m going to write a little on my WIP this afternoon, maybe market The Rising some, thank my new Twitter followers (all of them for that matter), and maybe play a level or two of Candy Crush. Just a normal Sunday afternoon. And I wouldn’t trade it for a time clock for anything.

Thursday’s Child chases the whole…

A big welcome to author Clare Revell! Clare’s latest novel, Thursday’s Child, (Pelican Book Group) released Friday, July 5th and with the recent tragedy involving the nineteen firefighters in Arizona, her book couldn’t be more timely.

From Clare: Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. From soldiers to sailors to firefighters and police officers. From pastors to teachers to fathers.

And now, from her Monday’s Child series comes the latest installment— Thursday’s Child.

Monday’s Child must hide for protection,

Tuesday’s Child tenders direction

Wednesday’s Child grieves for his soul

Thursday’s Child chases the whole

Friday’s Child is a man obsessed

Saturday’s Child might be possessed

And Sunday’s Child on life’s seas is tossed

Awaiting the Lifeboat that rescues the lost.

Meet Jared Harkin. Firefighter. Husband. Father. A man with a deeply troubled personal life, yet still puts his life on the line every day to save others.    Clarecover

Thursday’s Child chases the whole…

Broken…with bits missing. That’s how Niamh (pronounced Neeve), senior prosecutor for the CPS, feels when she wakes in a hospital severely injured with no knowledge of what happened–for the past ten years. A tall man in a firefighters uniform claims he’s her husband. While he’s everything she’s ever dreamed of in a man and more, she doesn’t know him. And if he was so important why can’t she remember? Was there something so terrible, so painful in her marriage, her mind has suppressed it?

First on the scene at a horrific accident, Jared Harkin is devastated to find his wife one of the injured. He’s already lost a child, can he live through this? Niamh survives the crash, but awakens with ten years missing and no memories of their life together. Determined to help her remember the past and their love, he sets about wooing her all over again. But are some things best forgotten?

As Niamh struggles to remember, the investigation into the accident reveals foul play. Did her recent caseload have anything to do with the attempt on her life? Or was it someone closer to her? As bit and pieces of memory return, the attacker strikes again. Can she piece together the whole of her past before it’s too late?

An exert from Thursday’s Child…

Jared shouldered the gear. “Don’t mention it.” He headed towards the smashed vehicles, the oil and petrol from shattered engines and tanks, mixing with the rain water. Other firefighters started running out hose having considered the high risk of fire. He could hear them talking and equipment buzzing, the normal sounds of a shout mixing with what he knew he had to do.

He got closer to the red car. The woman lay slumped over the steering wheel, black hair stained red with blood. He looked at Steve. “Did you bring the trauma care kit?”

“No.”

“Go get it. That way we can start treating her until the paramedics arrive.”

Steve nodded and ran back to the fire engine. Jared smiled and then moved closer to the car. Though the teeming rain he could make out the start of the number plate in the tangled wreckage. ROO. The rest of the plate was torn off.

It’s the same as Niamh’s. Don’t be silly. There are probably a thousand red cars that start ROO, if not more than that.

He got closer and suddenly the Station Manager, Brad Peters was there, blocking his path. “Jared…”

Jared looked at him. The look on the Guv’s face said it all. Oh, God, no, please… “Guv?”

“I’m sorry. It’s Niamh.”

Nausea and sheer panic filled him. Dropping the equipment to the ground, Jared moved as if in fire or lime. Everything slowed down, voices and sounds echoing. He shook off the arm that held him, his whole being determined to get to her, his eyes fixed on the wreck. Somewhere in that tortured and twisted hunk of metal was his wife.

“N-n-n-i-i-a-a-m-m-h-h-h.”

**END EXERT**

To purchase Thursday’s Child, go to: http://www.pelicanbookgroup.com/ec/thursdays-child

To celebrate the release of Thursday’s Child, we’re giving away two print copies and two e-book copies! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment. All names will go into a hat and the winners drawn randomly on July 12th. Good luck!

About Clare Revell:

Clare lives in a small town in England with her husband, whom she married in 1992, and her three children. Writing from an early childhood and encouraged by her teachers, she graduated clarepicfrom rewriting fairy stories through fanfiction to using her own original characters and enjoys writing an eclectic mix of romance, crime fiction and children’s stories. When she’s not writing, reading, sewing or keeping house or doing the many piles of laundry her children manage to make, she’s working part time in the breakfast club at one of the local schools. She has been a Christian for more than half her life. She goes to Carey Baptist where she is one of three registrars.

 

 

She can be found at: http://www.revell124.plus.com/clarerevell/  https://www.facebook.com/ClareRevellAuthorhttps://twitter.com/ClareRevell

Other titles by Clare Revell: Season For Miracles, Saving Christmas, Cassie’s Wedding Dress, Time’s Arrow, Kisses From Heaven, After The Fire, An Aussie Christmas Angel, Monday’s Child, Tuesday’s Child, Wednesday’s Child, and Thursday’s Child.

 

Exploding diapers and other s…stuff

Between my son’s kids and my daughter’s kids, we have four currently in diapers. We are   diaper experts.  Or at least I thought we were. Didn’t know they could explode.

Recently, one-year old Casey went to bed early, and got up up late. My daughter is one of the best mother’s I know. There was a time (maybe with the first kid, possibly with the second) that she would have gently woken the sleeping baby to change its diaper. Doubtful with the third. And Casey, is the fourth kid and has a younger sister by twenty minutes so you wake a sleeping kid in their house now and you face Nina’s wrath.

So Casey wakes up all smiling and happy but he has this massively wet diaper. I go to change him and the diaper like explodes! Little tiny, gooey, beads of what ever it is that makes up diapers, go everywhere. You couldn’t wipe them up, they multiplied! Like rabbits. It was a complete, horribly, gunky mess. Of course Casey was oblivious to the surrounding chaos and was quite happy entertaining himself with a game of patty-cake solitaire. He could  care less about what was going on behind the scene.

ElliottNall
Two-year old Elliott Nall, son of Aaron and Jenny Nall, likes to get comfortable and read his favorite book.

Sort of like a reader who just wants to read a good book. Do most readers really care if it took you a year to write it, a year to get it published, another year to hit the bookshelves? I doubt it. Yes, there are the real fans who eagerly await your next title and they might be interested in the ‘behind the scene’ stuff. But for many, I suspect, they just want to read a good book.

Everyone in the business says now is a great time to be a writer. We’ve never before had as many options to get our work out there in the readers’ hands, whether it be a physical book or on an e-reader. The popularity of e-readers has proven we no longer have to bow at the feet of the big publishers to have our work read. But however good that is, it’s also created a bit of a problem. For me at least, and I suspect I’m not alone.

There are currently eight new blog posts from other writers in my in-box I haven’t yet read. I want to read them and will get around to it and hopefully they aren’t time sensitive.

But it makes me wonder how many blog posts or tweets are going straight to the delete folder rather than being read? Because, I, like almost every writer I know, subscribe to other writer’s blogs. We follow other writers on Twitter. We “like” their Author Facebook pages. We’re friends on Facebook, Goodreads, and all the other social networking sites because we want to support them. But aren’t we sort of preaching to the choir?

It kind of hit me in the face the other day when I kept seeing the same “how to” article tweeted and shared over and over again. As writers, our main goal is to reach readers. Not necessarily other writers.

Like Casey’s diaper, I think social media has become over-saturated with writers telling other writers how to write. Do my readers really care why I write in first person rather than third? Or why action verbs work much better than passive verbs? Or how to write effective dialog?  Or how I can increase my Twitter followers by following three easy steps?confusing-street-sign1

Maybe it’s time to take a step back and give thought to who we’re really writing all these posts for. There are a number of big names in the writing world that I do follow because they offer very sound advice. But I get a wee bit frustrated by seeing their post re-tweeted a thousand times.

Just my opinion. I could be wrong. Feel free to re-tweet. Maybe it’ll start trending. In more ways than one.