Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Book You Want to Read

Recently, I've spent WAY too much time analyzing trends, what's been selling, what hasn't been, and trying to apply that to my own books.

That's really freaking stupid.

Okay, it's important to be knowledgeable about the business, sure. But I think I had more success in letting the best-sellers write what they wanted, and just sticking to writing what I wanted.  It was way more fun, too.

That was my one rule when I first started: I would write the kind of book that Teen Me wanted to read. I'm lucky in the fact that Teen Me and Me are actually quite similar, as I still don't consider myself a full-fledged master of adulthood. The book Teen Me wanted to read, coincidentally, is nowhere near what is popular these days, for these reasons:

  1. It was somewhat short. I remember finishing up a LONG day of homework, and the first thing I wanted to do was sit down with a book. But I also loved the feeling of satisfaction I got from finishing a book, especially when I could do it in one sitting. I didn't want overly complicated. I didn't want massive subplots. I wanted a nice little story, and  . . .
  2. It had a beginning, middle, and definite end.  No cliffhanger endings. No sequels. When it ended, I got to work in my head where it went. I didn't have to wait and agonize for the next part.  And also . . .
  3. That ending . . . it was happy. What can I say...  when I was a teen and my life was full of so much trauma, I liked happy. And I liked happy endings. Mostly because
  4. I had a very goofy side, and liked to laugh.  My books had to have a little dose of goofy in it. I'm a goofy person. I don't do angst really well. Writing serious scenes is hard for me because I am so tempted to throw in a stupid joke, to lighten the mood. 
  5. It wasn't about vampires, or witches, or anything else that's been "done" before.

If you'll notice, loooong, angst-ridden series seem to be in these days. That's what's popular. Or at least, that's what the gatekeepers, the ones who talk to teens and say, "This is what you'd like," would have us think.

But I don't think all teens like that.  I know that Teen Me would have one word for what's popular these days:  Ew.

So I am going to keep focusing on writing the book that I want to read. If it's not popular, that's okay. At least I know that Teen Me would read it, and she would be proud.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Objects in the Mirror . . .

About a decade or so ago, I had a bunch of stressful things happening in my life.  So I a) never ate and b) exercised all the time, which was a really bad combination, probably just as bad as eating too much and never exercising. Anyway, as a result, I was this little twiggy, unhealthy, size-0 thing.

But I can still remember, very clearly, sitting in the passenger seat of my husband's car as we travelled, looking at the reflection on the side window. Of the flesh of my thighs, spreading out across the seat.

And I thought, "Ew. I'm fat."

But I was a size zero.

Now as a healthy and normal size 8, I'll look at pictures of myself back then and think how positively skeletal I was. How sick I was.

This is something I remind myself of when I'm writing. When I read my work back to myself and think, "Wow, this stinks."

We are too close to ourselves, and to anything we create. We can not see it accurately. At least, not without stepping away from it for a few weeks or months.

I know some writers operate without critique partners. I am really not sure how they do it, and I'd love to know.  I will occassionally think something I write is awesome and learn from my trusted friends that it is not. More often, I will think something I wrote is terrible, and learn that it actually isn't so bad. But I really have no idea, most of the time, where my stuff rates on the Suck-o-meter. Even after five books. No idea. I doubt I ever will.

I don't think it helps that writing is so subjective, and that one person's trash is another person's favorite book of all time. Often I'll send a book in after edits, thinking it needs another couple of drafts, only to be horrified that it was accepted and moved on to copyedits. I want to scream, "No, not yet!" hold it to myself as tight as I can, do a takeback. But it's too late. I try to comfort myself, "My editor is a pro, she knows when a book is ready."  But most often I wallow in the thought of all the changes I could've made, that would have made it so much better.

It's so easy to see the flaws in yourself. So easy.

It's impossible to write a book without flaws, at least in someone's eyes.

A decade or so ago, I always had my husband, pulling me from the brink, telling me that I was perfect, just the way I was. Not that I was too thin, or too fat. In his eyes, I was more than my weight. I was perfect.

And now I have critique partners that do the same thing for me. So someone says my books are too short. So someone says my characters are whiners. So someone says that scene was too unbelievable. They tell me my books are more than that one character, or that one scene. And while my books may not be perfect to everyone, they may just be perfect for someone.

And that's enough for me. It should be enough for anyone. I hope it's enough for you.

And I hope you find yourself a wonderful critique partner. They are worth SO much.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Stuff. Yeah, I know that makes this entry sound so compelling, you have to read it.

Some have looked at my rather blank Events page and asked me when my next signing is, and well . . . not for a little while, I guess. I'm speaking to librarians early next month, but after that . . . big black hole of signings!  I had a really nice one with Josh Berk and Elisa Ludwig last weekend, and it was lots of fun. The Exton BAM is great.  Here's a pic (big thanks to Michelle for her pic-taking skills):


I may have more eventually, and if I do, I'll post my schedule here.

I also wanted to make a mention to certain fans of mine.  Notably, foreign fans. I am getting the NICEST emails from readers outside the US who are interested in seeing my books in their country. Actually, a lot of them. A lot lot lot of them, so many that I'm having a bit of a lag responding to them all. If you are one of those people, I want to thank you so much for your interest, as it means so much to me that my book has captured your attention.  For awhile, I tried to keep up with these requests. Unfortunately, now, my pocket book is so small (I am a writer, after all), and I'm unable to send mail overseas. I really, really, apologize for this, as I welcome all your emails and am so flattered by your interest.  But I also have a family to feed. :) But again, thank you! Right now, you can find some of my books in the US, Canada, Hungary, Germany, and Italy... but I hope that one day my books will be available in your corner of the world, too.

I hope you all are having a lovely September.

XO, Cyn