Monday, October 14, 2013

Sometimes Your Personal Back-Story Matters

Two days ago I was invited to an "Educator Breakfast" at Barnes & Noble. This is a regular event put together by bookseller extraordinaire, Crystal Perkins. Crystal a B&N manager, an event coordinator for the Las Vegas Valley Book Festival, genius of all things publishing, most well-read person I know, and all-around amazing person. Two of the attendees "skyped" in from their various locations: Eileen Cook from Canada and Chris Howard from Colorado.

The set up of the conversation was a question and answer (amongst teachers, librarians, readers and writers), where we got to know one another, and discussed all things bookish. It was informal, fun and totally engaging. Here's what I got out of the experience:

Sometimes Your Personal Back-Story Matters

Eileen Cook is a fascinating author. She used this this one-liner that I am totally going to steal: (I'm paraphrasing) As a child, I dreamed about growing up and becoming an author, which is about as practical as wanting to grow up and be a princess. So funny! So true! So she went to college, studied psychology, and worked in the field of psychology for many years until she finally published her first book, which drew greatly upon her expertise. Her background is incredibly interesting and makes me want to read every word she writes. It also helps that she is a lovely person.

Chris Howard is an equally engaging author. His English accent doesn't hurt matters either. The dude studied natural resources management at Colorado State University, worked for the National Park Service, and led wilderness adventure trips for teenagers. No wonder he wrote an awesome post-apocalyptic adventure.

Whether we want to admit it or not, as writers we must one day step out from behind our computer screens and engage with readers. Don't you think it might help if we are interesting? If we have some kind of backstory to highlight why we became writers, why we decided to write the books we wrote?

Two great examples that come to the top of my mind are:
  • Lydia Kang who is freaking doctor and has written a thrilling science-techy book called CONTROL which comes out December 2013.
  • Christina Farley who is a school teacher, lived in Asia, studied martial arts and wrote a kick-A mythological paranormal set in Korea. Her book GILDED comes out next year.
Which authors do you find fascinating? And have you given any thought to your backstory and what will make you interesting to readers?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Monday Quickie: Three Things That Make Me A Better Writer

Good Monday to you all! It's time for another installment of:

The Quickie

This is where I  post a QUICK WRITING TIP. A writing skill everyone should know. Whether it be technical or creative, useful or not, I'm gonna give it to you! You're gonna be humming the lyrics to "Honkey Tonk Badonkadonk" by Trace Adkins:

If that's your thing :/

Without further ado, here are my:
Three Small Things That Make Me A Better Writer

  1. Meet with writer friends regularly. You don't have to be part of an official writer's group (though that's awesome too)--I'm not. You don't have to choose an official day (though it helps)--I don't. You don't have to choose the popular writers (though it might be nice to have the connections to successful authors)--I only sometimes schlepp along. It's just important to have positive friendships with those who understand you, are willing to help you, and happy to share the creative vibe.
  2. Get Outside. Sometimes as writers, we tend to be sedentary. After all, its kind of hard to play tennis and type at the same time. But it's important to take breaks, breathe fresh air, get some vitamin D (from the sunshine, not from a pill), and get some endorphins flowin'! 
  3. Indulge A Little. Right now my favorite thing to do while writing is enjoying a hot beverage. It might the crisp fall air, but anything that comes in a beautiful and steaming hot mug sounds good to me. Whether it be peppermint tea, hot apple cider, creamy cocoa, pumpkin spice frap-a-lappas (or whatever they're called)...I'll take it. And it keeps me happy while I sedentarally sit on my A for a few hours.

While I admit that none of this information is groundbreaking, it might be a nice reminder. I know it is for me. 

What small things make you a better writer?