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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How To Read a Book

Warning: Rant ahead...

The other day, I was in my local bookstore when I saw someone do The Worst Thing Ever. In fact, this "Worst Thing" is such a pet peeve of mine that I very nearly walked up to a total stranger--disregarding what the bookstore staff would think of this debut author--to give him a piece of my mind. This is what he did...

He picked up a book, read the back cover, then proceeded to flip to the last page, the heart-wrenching/victorious/satisfying, and/or romantic ending that some author had SLAVED to build an entire book around. I mean, the ending is at the end for a reason. Am I right?!? Can you tell how much I hate this?

Anyway, if you're one of these people who flips to the ending before reading the book, please DO NOT tell me about it. I would have a very difficult time forgiving you. But in case you do need instruction, here is the proper way to read a book:

1. Admire the cover. Wonder for a few seconds of gazing at the artwork what type of a book it will be.
2. Flip to the back and read the description or any blurbs that are there. Is it what you're in the mood for right now? If not, put it back down and give it a better chance when you are in the mood. Lately I've read a few fantasy and paranormal books when I knew I was in the mood for some realism. It's too bad, because I probably would have enjoyed the books more if I'd been in a different state of mind. Shame on me. I have learned my lesson.
3. Read the bio and acknowledgments. I love having a little insight into the author's life before reading their book. Besides, it's kind of cool to know when you're reading a medical thriller from someone who truly used to be a medical examiner.
4. Read the dedication and move right on to the first page.
5. Read the whole book. Then, and only then, when you reach the ending, read the ending. Read it the way the author meant for you to read it.
6. After I'm done reading a book, I always go back and re-read the first page. More often than not, doing that give me a whole new level of respect for the author. After reading the whole book, it's usually easy to see why they started the book the way they did and why that was the perfect way to start it.
7. I usually re-read the acknowledgments one more time after all this too. I know I'm probably overly sentimental in this way, but I guess I kind of feel like I know the author better by the end of their book, and many of their acknowledgments will mean more to me at that point.

And that's my elementary lesson for today, folks! Now that I'm done my rant, I am curious...does anyone else re-read the bio, acknowledgments, and first page after reading the book?

Would You Rather Wednesday...

I love the game "Would You Rather". Or, to be more honest, I love the concept of the game "Would You Rather". I've actually never played it. But I've read the back of many versions of the game box, and it seems like a ton of fun. So I wanted to do my own little version for writers/readers.

Would you rather...

1. ...Give a harsh critique or get a harsh critique?

2. ...Read a novel filled with lots of extra exposition, or one with unlikable characters?

3. ...Get on a bestseller list with your novel, or win a prestigious literary award?

Go ahead, answer one of them or all of them! I'll come back later and give my answers in the comments.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Teen Author Tuesday Presents Shari Maurer!

Welcome back to another installment of Teen Author Tuesday! Today's author who writes for teens is a great Internet-friend of mine. Through the Class of 2k10, we've been planning events together and getting to know one another over most of the last year.

Shari Maurer's debut novel, CHANGE OF HEART, is due out from WestSide Books this summer. It is Contemporary YA for ages 14 and up. 

Welcome, Shari! Can you tell me about your book in seven words or less?
Love, soccer, worry, invincible (or not), heartache

Invincible or not - love that! Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in your debut novel and why?
Abe. This is the guy Emmi meets at the hospital and who gives her support through her waiting for a transplant, etc. He loves old rock bands and is really comfortable in his own skin.

Sounds like a great guy. Can you tell my readers a little about yourself?
I'm a big Duke basketball fan (can you say National Champs?!), I love old rock bands (which I gave to Abe) and I try very hard to be an optimist. When a friend comes to me with a problem, I'm always the one seeking the bright side.

I'm a bright-side-seeker too! Maybe that's why we get along so well. What's been the most surprising thing about your path to publication so far, Shari?
How much I've enjoyed my debut groups. I'm a member of the Class of 2K10 and the Tenners and I had no idea how important it was to have a community.

Amen to that. What's one piece of writing advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Find a critique group that's not afraid to tell you something stinks (as long as they say it nicely and in a constructive manner). I have a two amazing writers I work with and they push me to make my mediocre drafts far better than I ever could on my own.

Wonderful advice! Are you swept up with promotion for your debut book right now or can you give us a sentence or two about something new you're working on?
I've been working hard to juggle promotion with writing a new book. The book I'm working on right now is set at summer camp (I love summer camp and met my husband there when we were 17) and it examines the question: "when is it okay to lie?"

Oooh, very intriguing. What did you write when you were a teen, Shari? Did you journal? Write poetry? Write overly literary or emotional stories? Or avoid writing altogether?
I don't think I wrote much as a teen. Maybe a little journaling. I did adapt the sixth grade play from my favorite book, "Cheaper By the Dozen" (no relation to the Steve Martin movie), but I was only 11, so not sure that counts toward teen writing.

Oh, it counts all right. What's the last book you read that you really loved?
Can I cheat and name two? "Twenty Boy Summer" by Sarah Ockler and "The Sky is Everywhere" by Jandy Nelson. Both dealt with grief and coping in two very different but beautiful ways.

Both of these are on my TBR pile! *bumps them up the list*. If readers want to find out more about you and your writing, Shari, where should they look?

Awesome. Thanks so much for visiting my blog today, Shari, and all the very best with your release!