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Young Adult Dark Urban Fantasy Author ~

Writer

#WritersAgainstBullying

My publisher made me aware of an anti-bullying campaign happening across social media called, Writers Against Bullying, and has asked me to join in on the movement and speak up.

I thought for the sake of this post that I would look up the definition of bullying. Most people seem to assume it only, and I use the word ‘only’ very, very lightly here, means being knocked around. It doesn’t.

The definition per StopBullying.gov defines bullying as the following:

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

I never thought I got bullied as a kid, and then I read this definition and realized I was wrong. Honestly, after reading that definition it would be safe to assume that everyone has been bullied at one point or another.

I write young adult fiction, and I remember being a teenager very clearly. Everyone talking about everyone else, spreading rumors, excluding people, making fun, it seemed so normal. Thing is, bullying can have life long, and sometimes devastating, consequences. When I was in middle school, a guy grabbed my butt in the hallway. I sank my nails into his arm, detaching his hand, and he called me a bitch and slapped me. Across the face. In a crowded hallway. And No One did anything. Including me. I was shocked and pissed and suddenly afraid. Too afraid to say a word to a teacher, or the dean, or even my mom. I didn’t think that was bullying. But it was. Hell, when I was in middle school, no one even talked about bullying. I avoided that kid like the plague for two years in middle school.

Now, I’m a mom, and I dealt with my son getting bullied on and off from Kindergarten through Fourth grade. I was told by more than one teacher that, “Boys will be boys.” Those words triggered the same anger I felt in the hallway when I was 13 years old. Boys will be boys. Boys can do what they want and not get in any trouble for it, because, you know, that’s what ‘boys’ do. Thing is … it’s NOT what all boys do, and it’s NOT okay to use a cliche as an excuse for that kind of behavior.

After my son got punched in the stomach, I told him to fight back. He did. The bullying stopped. And that’s the messed up part. As a parent you want your kids to be safe, follow the rules, do the right thing, but … when bullying keeps happening, and that’s just the issue, it can and does in some circumstances, go on and on and on, what then? What’s the right answer to tell your kid then? Be afraid? Avoid that other kid the way I did, always wondering when he’ll do it again. Let him stare you down in the hallway? I told my kid to fight back after he’d been knocked around too many times, and the school did next to nothing, because by that point, I knew he had to defend himself or it would continue. Bullies like having the upper hand. It’s a power trip.

I’m not telling anyone to haul off and hit someone, don’t misread me. But we do need to teach our kids to speak up. Tell someone. I should have, and I think a lot of kids, like I was, are too afraid it will happen again, or get worse, if they say something. But it’s never okay to lay your hands on someone. Guy, girl, kid, adult, alien, superhero, whatever, it needs to stop.

And sadly, I’m only talking about physical stuff in this post. Verbal attacks, being excluded, and singled out, can be just as bad, if not worse. As a girl, I know how mean other girls can be, so don’t think I’m not calling the girls out, too. Girls should be supportive of each other instead of tearing each other down. I have never understood what that’s about.

As writers we have a strong voice that can be heard by a lot of people, so this is a call to all you writers out there to get behind the #WritersAgainstBullying movement. Post pics on Twitter, Facebook, (your page and the Writers Against Bullying FB page), your blog, wherever you’re on social media, and speak up.

 

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We Who Make Stories …

“We who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort. And that is why we write.”

~Neil Gaiman — The Graveyard Book

** I am a such a Neil Gaiman fan if you guys haven’t noticed.

Neil Gaiman, signing

Neil Gaiman, signing (Photo credit: Jutta @ flickr)


If You Dare Nothing …

“If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.”

~ Neil Gaiman (The Graveyard Book) 

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Wait … Should I Write That?

There is a moment now and then when writers may catch themselves and think … wait, should I write that? 

My fellow writer, and friend, Elena Ransley wrote a post titled, Just because I write it, doesn’t mean I did it.

I think her words are both honest and true. There is a fine line writers walk between fiction and fact. Fantasy and reality. So much of who we are is embedded in our stories. Our words, our voices, our hearts … our sometimes crazed imaginations. Elena writes,  “Just because you write about an axe murderer, doesn’t mean you are slightly unhinged and could lose it and carry out your protagonists actions in the middle of the night – just because you think it, doesn’t mean you would do it.”

People judge you as a person when you put your stories out there. And we can judge ourselves as words fly from our fingertips in a flurry of ideas. Whether you write horror or paranormal romance, people will either love your work and sing your praises, or wonder if you are indeed unhinged.

Does it matter? As a writer who has chosen to share their work with the world–it probably shouldn’t. It’s the risk you take when you decide to go public. It’s the reason every writer hears those few words of caution, “Grow a thick skin. You’re going to need it.”

Not everyone will praise or even like your work. Some people may hate your genre, your ideas–your imagination. And they will judge you. But we can’t please everyone and we can only write what moves us and hope our words resonate with readers.

So I leave you with this to ponder:

“Writers are not just people who sit down and write.  They hazard themselves.  Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake.”  ~E.L. Doctorow

So the question is, Are you willing to put yourself out there? It’s the risk all writers have to take. The difference between owning what you love and hiding it. The difference between being public or private. Published or tucked away in a drawer.

SO WRITE ON WRITERS. Take your best shot. 😉

*** Re-posted from April 2012 ***

 

Still Aspiring?

Aspire: to long, aim, or seek for.

Aspire is one of those words with an embedded escape clause.

“If I really suck at this, or if I just give up, it won’t matter because I’m only aspiring.”

GHAACK!

Do you love to write? Does it speak to you?

Then WRITE.

Aspiring isn’t goal setting. It’s an escape hatch. It is scribble, scribble, blah, blah … What was I talking about?

If you want to write then write. If you want to become an author work your ass off at it. It’s hard and it will make you want to scream one second and cry the next. But writers write. It’s what we do. Don’t be afraid to put a label on it.

~ Author Unknown

~ Author Unknown


You’re Not Working Hard Enough.

Via Warriorforum.com

Like many writers, I have spent the last few years trying to ‘do it all.’ Whether I’m drafting another blog post, tinkering with Twitter, shouting out to writers on Triberr, checking my Facebook profile, posting on my Facebook author page, pinning on Pinterest, reading the dozens of emails I receive daily, or finishing my novel revisions, everyday is filled to the rim. In my mind, the most important of these is my novel. It’s the reason for everything else. Yet everything else seems to overwhelm it most of the time.

read all day long, in one form or another. In order to write well, you must read. A lot. Preferably in your genre, although reading in general is the point. I try to stay current with the latest books, all the advice on book marketing, social media reach, blog hits, and on and on. It’s endless.

via pinterest.com

Yesterday I read an article that stated people aren’t reading less in the digital age, instead people are actually reading more. Wanting more. More to download. More, more, more. Readers want books NOW. How are they reading them all? Who knows.

What it means for writers is what concerns me. Many authors are now attempting to hammer out three….four, five books a year to stay in the game.

WHAT?!

The industry standard has forever been…one book per year.

ONE. Maybe.

But with the introduction, and popularity, of ereaders the standard is changing. Rapidly.

For me, and many others, that’s an issue. Besides the fact that I write at turtle speed, and revise at snail, I’ve worked myself to near exhaustion trying to do everything, and be everywhere. How are we supposed to do it all? We can’t. And we shouldn’t try to either.

Balance is the key.

I’ve talked about balance a lot in prior posts, but I didn’t know how to attain it. I’ve had to force myself to step back, and breathe. Step back and realize that NO ONE can do it all, and do it well. Not going to happen. Not for long anyway. I still believe that through all the chatter and advice, all the constant information flying everywhere, that our main goal as writers should be creating good content.

We can market until we are blue in the face and crawling. Put our names out everywhere and brand until everyone knows it. But none of that will matter if our books suck. Writing is hard enough without trying to master social media.

W. Somerset Maugham
Via zazzle.com

I know we as writers are a helpful and supportive group. We want to help each other succeed. We want to feel like someone else gets it, and we aren’t wandering around alone searching for answers in the dark. So we read everything, follow a hundred blogs, and basically overwhelm ourselves with information. Not the best mindset to have when we are trying to write an 80,000 word novel.

Slow down. Really.

I don’t have this thing figured out either, but it occurs to me that a few things are obvious.

**Write your books and write them well. No good book—no reason for social media.

**Write your blog posts, tweet your shout outs, engage. But put a time limit on it.

**Back to writing.

Remember the reason why you are doing all of this. Is it to write stories? To get lost in those worlds? Yeah? Go get lost then, and create the best worlds you can.

The other stuff at the end of the day is secondary. Important, yes, but still secondary.

So tell me, what part of this industry have you found the most difficult?

**first posted in May 2012 before I landed the book contract, so let’s add that once thrown into the mix, things got busier. The difference? Now, I feel like everything else finally matters. 😉


Writers Who Are Readers and Readers Who Are Writers

Which one are you?

I’m the latter. Definitely.

Although I’ve always written, my love of the written word began before my sentence structure did. My imagination of worlds far and beyond sparked at a very young age. Writing the stories I imagined in my own head, came later.

Books

Books (Photo credit: henry…)

I realized recently, after having a conversation with a fellow writer, just how different the above breeds of writers can be. When I began my novel and truly delved into learning craft, I found reading for my usual enjoyment difficult, and suddenly lacking. Instead of the story I saw sentence structure, grammar use. I would hear myself questioning the decisions the author made and wondering what I would have done differently. I couldn’t see the stories anymore. I’d lost the magical quality that had originally turned me on to writing. I’d lost what I craved most. The story.

Writers who are readers pick stories apart. Readers who are writers, read. For the sheer enjoyment of it. To be transported. To live in someone else’s shoes.

I learned that when you are only looking for errors, they are all you will ever see. And when you are editing your book as a writer, they are all you should see. But when all of that is done–you should see your story.

Now, I have to shut off the writer brain (as hard as that is sometimes) and turn on the reader one. If I don’t, I find myself reading as I would a text book. But if I do… I remember why I love to read. Why I love to write, too. I have worlds I want to share. Characters and  plots. I have to stories to share. That’s the aim, right? To share good stories? And at the end of the day, after all the edits are done and proofreads have been finished, I want to be able to read my book through the eyes of a reader. If I can’t do that — if I can’t still feel the emotion that sat me in front of the laptop for months on end — if I can’t see and feel what I need the reader to see and feel — well, what exactly have I been doing? Remember that readers read because they want to be carried away. You need to see your book not only through your eyes as a writer, but more importantly, through the eyes of your readers. They are the ones who matter. They are the ones who will make or break you as an author. Every single time. And readers, the vast majority of them, are story cravers, not editors, not writers, just readers.

Write the best book you can. Get the best editor you can. Nit pick the crap out every tiny detail in your novel. Then go back and read it. And remember why you wrote it in the first place. The best grammar in the world will not save a crappy story. But…an awesome story will trump a few overlooked grammatical errors. Check out some book on the best sellers list. Readers aren’t looking for perfect. They aren’t looking for the same things writers are. They’re looking for that one story that digs into their soul. The one story they can’t stop thinking about. The one they read over and over again. That’s the book we as writers should be writing.

WRITE ON, WRITERS! And tell your stories.


Everyone Has Talent …

Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads.

~Erica Long


What Are You Afraid Of?

Judgement.

It’s every new writers nightmare. The reason so many hide their stories away.

What if no one likes my book? What if I only think I can write…but really, I can’t! 

Oh, god, people are going to judge me. 

BUT…..

A quote by Bruce Patrick

WRITE ON, WRITERS.


The Only Reason For Being A Professional Writer…

The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can’t help it.

~Leo Rosten