What’s Your Book Club Reading?

Dunthorpe Book Junkies

 

The absolute greatest indulgence in the world for an author is to have an opportunity to connect with her readers. It is a thrill unlike anything else, and so far, in these last 64 days, I have heard from readers in a variety of ways.

Some people have called me. These readers, of course, are friends and family. As it turns out, this is as thrilling for them as it is for me because,  typically, they aren’t able to finish reading a book, then pick up the phone to call the author with a question. Other readers have been in touch by reviewing the book on Amazon or Goodreads or Barnes and Noble. Some readers have asked me questions on my Goodreads page or started to follow my blog and have left comments there.

That’s where I recently heard from a reader from Portland, Oregon. She had chosen THE MEMORY BOX for her book club and the meeting was going to be in a few days and she was eager to find discussion questions. If you read the book, you’re probably thinking what I was thinking. She hadn’t finished it yet. This actually reminded me of myself. I’m always reading the book club book the weekend before the meeting. Anyway, she was relieved to hear that the suggested questions were listed in the back of the book. (We had a good laugh about this later!) I also told her that her group was the first book club to read THE MEMORY BOX and that I’d love to join their discussion of the book. This flipped her out. They never had an author join them at a book club meeting. Who has? But I can tell you, this was a mutual treat! She decided this was so exciting that she wasn’t going to tell any of the members beforehand. She wanted it to be a surprise for the night they were discussing the book. Since I appeared via Face Time, I wasn’t able to hear her tell everyone before I was “live,” but I can tell you I was as ecstatic as they were.

In retrospect, it makes complete sense to me that people love to hear the back story of the story. How did you come up with the idea? Why did Caroline make certain decisions? What is your writing process? Why didn’t so-and-so tell the police about so-and-so? (Sorry, can’t reveal that specific question, but it was a good one! In fact, I hadn’t ever thought about it before — they really stumped me.) And they asked the question that I seem to be getting a lot these days, will there be a sequel? If you had asked me that question 65 days ago, I would have said no. But now, I just might reconsider. More on that to come.

Apart from meeting some fabulous, intelligent, fun, inquisitive, fun (did I say that already? well, they were really fun!) women, the other really interesting thing for me was that I got to know my characters even more than I did already. They asked me such thought provoking questions that I had to dig deep and really think about these characters I’ve come to know over the years since I started writing the book. I understood on another level their motivations for their actions. I can’t explain how incredible it was to still have these “aha moments” and think to myself, “Oh, that’s why she did that!”

Thank you, Dunthorpe Book Junkies! I am so lucky to have you as readers. By the way, that’s a photo of them above. For everyone else out there in the world, if you choose THE MEMORY BOX for your book club, please let me know. I’ve heard from many of you who have scheduled it for your September, October and November (you peeps are good planners!) meetings. So, thank you! And, absolutely send me a photo of your group with the book and I’d love to post it here. If I’m available to chat with you and your group via Face Time or Skype, if you’d like, I’ll make every effort. But if I can’t, do let me know about your meeting, I’d love to hear from you!

 

My Secret Hair Fantasy

photo by The Webhamster

photo by The Webhamster

I will let you in on a little secret. I sometimes fantasize that someday all human beings will be born bald. Okay, I know, a sizable percentage of humans are currently born bald. But I mean, stay bald. Like, never grow hair. An entire hairless human race. You might think a comment like that would come from someone living in eternal hair hell. Thankfully, I pretty much have okay hair. I have my fair share of bad hair days, but I also have a decent amount of good hair days to hang my hat on. And when those happen, I feel great.

That’s part of my problem with hair. Why do I need a good hair day to feel good about myself? That’s nuts. Hair? It’s an appendage for god sakes. My feet never make me feel any better or worse about myself. (Unless, of course, Lord and Taylor is having a huge shoe sale and my amply-sized feet won’t fit into any of them.) So why is hair so important? Of course there are all sorts of twists and turns of daily life which diminish or pad our happiness levels. Things we can control and things we can’t. So why let something as frivolous as hair impact our mood, our self-esteem, our confidence?

Apart from spending a fortune on hair – to curl or straighten it, dye it, perm it, style it, shine it, wax it, iron, extend, remove, highlight, process, tweeze, thread or weave it, etcetera, think of the hours spent on our hair. And sadly, most of the time after it’s “done,” we will likely say—we hate it.

Certain assumptions are made about people based on their hair. Don’t shake your head, you know it’s true. Sometimes these assumptions turn out to be not so wrong. But most of the time, it’s just another way we judge people.

Although at first glance this may seem like something of a girl problem, men are just as vulnerable in the hair department. Some guys have too much. Some guys have too little. When I was a teen, I knew a couple of guys whose egos took a beating from thick curly hair. In the 70’s there were few flattering options. Cut it short? Grow it long?

What about people who lose their hair after medical interventions? Do they really need to feel any additional hardships? Now they have to worry about how to deal with something as inconsequential as hair! Navigating the challenges of life is hard enough. I believe it would be much better for everyone to never have hair. Do we really need it? You live in Minnesota? Throw on a hat! You’re a Brooklyn Nets cheerleader? Work on choreography! You’re a hair stylist? Sorry.

Let’s admire people for reasons that matter. If we were all bald, it would be easier to look past the outside and regard people because they’re interesting, humorous, ambitious, inventive, kind, resourceful, dynamic, determined, talented, tenacious, inspiring, nurturing. Not because they have the perfect shiny bob.

The Artform of Uncertainty

photo by rromer

photo by rromer


Is it even any good at all?

I’m sure this is not the thing I should be thinking at this stage of the game. Within the last sixteen months, I’ve read hundreds of articles on ‘Marketing for the Self-Published Author’ and none of the advice said to doubt yourself moments before the release of your book. Moreover, doubting yourself publicly is most assuredly an epic fail.

But if I know anything about writers, that’s exactly what we do.

Why is it that confidence and healthy egos are wasted on athletes, politicians and surgeons? Okay, it’s not wasted on surgeons. We all want surgeons to be super-duper confident. But what about us creative types? Why is it not in our genes? Or is it the other way around? Does our roughed-up self-esteem guide us to choose the arts to torture us, I mean express ourselves?

I don’t need the kind of swagger Rambo has. I’d do fine with just a sliver. I’m a little skeptical of people at the other end of the bold-barometer anyway. But it’s my initial reaction to the overly-confident type that always surprises me. For instance, let’s say I’m in the park and I’m sharing a bench with someone I don’t know. It’s a beautiful day and I say aloud, “Wow, the sky is so blue.” And the stranger turns to me and says, “Blue? Where? You mean green, right? That’s the greenest sky I’ve ever seen! The most perfect green. The kind of green sky you only see in movies. Did you say blue?! That’s crazy.” My first reaction to this, as I sit with my mouth open, looking up at the sky and then back down at this pigment-pundit, would not be ‘what kind of smug, aggressively stupid, color-blind crazy no-holding-back impolite stranger is this?’ like maybe it should be. Instead my first thought would probably be, ‘Hmm, green? Could I have been wrong all these years?’

Maybe the very fact that the arts are subjective and open to interpretation and judgment is the very reason artists fear they may not be understood or appreciated. After all, a stock trader has either a winning day or a losing day, a sharp shooter makes his target or doesn’t. There’s no judgment there. If someone hits a homerun in the extra innings of a nail-biter, no one is gonna say it was a lousy homerun.

But a song or a painting or a book or a dance. There will be plenty of interpretations and accolades and criticisms. Everyone will have a unique opinion. I will see something you don’t; you’ll be moved by something that I’ve already forgotten. Art speaks to our personal experiences, whether they are dreams or fears, accomplishments or vulnerabilities. It has the power to bring people together, to heal, to inspire, to stir, to challenge, to shock, to intrigue, to entertain.

Oh, yeah.

I can do that.

Guest Post on Change it Up Editing

I’m thrilled to be guest blogging today over at changeitupediting.com, where I reveal a few of my writing secrets, namely how I’ve wriggled out a few creative blocks. Come on over and check it out and share your own tales of creative inspiration. While you’re there, indulge yourself in the some wonderful writing insights of editor Candace Johnson. Here’s to a prolific 2014!