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Friday, October 28, 2011

Teens HATE to read? Seriously?

At a recent book signing at the Enfield Mall, I was struck by number one, how dead the mall was compared to when I used to hang out there on the weekends with my friends, and two, how many teenagers reported that they HATE to read. Blasphemy! Horrors! And what’s up with that?

“Really?” I asked in shock.

In keeping with current vernacular, the young ladies replied, “Seriously. With all the crap we have to read in school, we like, have NO interest in reading.”

“Wow! So if I said this book is a young adult romance between a seventeen year old girl and a nineteen year old Marine who was wounded in Iraq, you wouldn’t be interested?”

Eyes widened, snarky smiles lit up their faces, and eyes rolled—all signs of interest for teenage girls—whether they will admit it or not. Since I had captured their attention and felt like I was on the cusp of breaking through a barrier of some kind, I pressed on. I thought, if I could influence these young girls to become readers, how cool would that be? My mission was clear. I needed to change their minds about reading. I gave them each a copy of the book and laid out the challenge.

“Read to the end of chapter one, and I dare you to put down the book.”

They all giggled and took the books, satisfied grins on their faces that they had been gifted a kind of treasure—for free! The only thing I asked in return was for them to go on Amazon and leave a review after they read it. They all smiled and said they would. We’ll see. Most importantly, the possibility exists that they will read the book and it will change their minds about reading.

I couldn’t blame them entirely for their disdain of books. After all, I too had to endure reading such classics as The Red Badge of Courage, Farenheight 451, and Catcher In The Rye. And who could forget Chaucer, Fitzgerald, Hemmingway and the works of Shakespeare? Umm…most of us, probably. I’m not against reading good literature, but kids in today’s world of immediate gratification and technological warp speed want to read about people they can identify with. They want stories that draw them into a world where kids are powerful—where they can take on the monsters and win—thus the fascination with the paranormal. Harry Potter, Twilight and the thousand other vampire, werewolf and witch stories available on today’s shelves have kids drowning in magical possibilities. Again, I can’t say I blame them. I too, read to escape the harsh realities of a world spinning out of control. So can we find a compromise?

This is a new generation of readers and we need to offer them books with stories that will engage them while also offering real, identifiable characters. If there are underlying life lessons, moments of poignant emotional revelation and reasons to root for our heroes and heroines, all the better.

Help me out here. How can we make teenagers LOVE reading again? Any ideas?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Multi-tasking. Asset or Addiction?

In a time when there has to be a law against texting and driving, and fast food restaurants have provided us with meals on wheels, how far will we take the concept of multi-tasking? Is multi-tasking an asset or an addiction?

I’m an avid multi-tasker from way back, myself. Call me obsessive compulsive or call me efficient, I’ve become adept at juggling many projects simultaneously.

I used to do homework and listen to music at the same time when I was growing up. As a parent I learned to do at least five things at once. Now I watch TV as I write, though I confess I cannot listen to music while I write. Even without caffeine, I have a ridiculous capacity for doing many tasks at once.

But is it the adrenalin rush that has me so dependent on my Android phone? Or is there a bigger plot we have as yet to uncover? Muaaaahhhha! The internet allows us to be in many places at one time, and technology offers us limitless possibilities. Scary? Yes. Exciting? You bet. Addictive? Maybe. So when is enough really way too much? These are a few of my quirky little multi-tasking obsessions…er…tricks.

1) I practice singing, plot out scenes in my current WIP, or plan my next marketing strategy while in the shower or while I’m out walking my dog in the woods.
2) I exercise while watching last night’s shows or catching up on episodes of Days Of Our Lives.
3) I check messages and e-mails while waiting for my next appointment or, I hate to confess, waiting for the light to turn green.

How do you know when you’ve gone too far?

You know you are doing too much when you are texting or checking your e-mails while sitting on the toilet.

You know when you are doing too much when you have six Scrabble games going at the same time and you are still working a full time job.

You know you are doing too much when you forget to eat, shower, sleep…you fill in the random necessity you’ve forgotten.

You know you are doing too much when Amazon algorithms become your next focused thought.

So tell me readers, “What crazy multi-tasking habits do you have?”

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Unexpected Experiences

Since HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES came out almost three weeks ago, I’ve had a number of unexpected experiences that I wanted to share with you.

First, I want to acknowledge all of the wonderful friends, family, writers, and readers who have supported me and bought the book. You guys have made all the hard work worth it. Thank you to those who have left such great reviews on and Those reviews help to generate these crazy stats called algorithms within Amazon’s software. Algorithms drive books up the recommended reading list, which helps other readers find me. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your efforts and I encourage you to do the same for other authors you want to support.

Secondly, I know that this sounds crazy, but I had no real expectation that anyone would like the book. I was fully prepared for harsh criticism and what I’ve gotten has been genuine praise and congratulations on a job well done, which makes my heart swell and palms sweat at the same time. It makes me want to work even harder to make the next book, ON THIN ICE, meet that same standard and exceed it if possible. As writers who love our stories like children we have given birth to, we want everyone to love our characters as much as we do. So thank you all for the positive feedback. I do promise that the editing will be more thorough on the next book. I’m still working out the bugs in my system, so please be patient with me.

Third, I wrote this story to honor our military and their families. I especially wanted to bring focus to the generation of young adults who have grown up with this war and seen siblings, parents, and friends effected by the tragedies of living in this difficult climate of world conflict. I’ve met some amazing people in the past few weeks, both in person and in the cyber sphere, that have spoken about their grief and loss as well as their anger and sadness over the wasted and devastated lives of our lost and returning soldiers. I have a new and deeper understanding of the impact of speaking out about people’s pain. I am also glad that they found my story to be uplifting and one of hope. I am humbled beyond words.

Lastly, I’d like to say for the record that I am officially pooped! I’ve been on a wild and difficult journey to indie-publication. Although it’s been a labor of love and a challenging growth experience, it has been much more than I could have imagined. Realize dear friends and readers that the goal to become published authors comes with a lot of hard work, discipline and a willingness to step outside of your comfort zone on a daily basis. Choose your path wisely and boldly follow your dreams, but be careful what you wish for, because you may just get it.

What unexpected experiences have you had in your latest climb to the top?
Two lucky commenters will win a free e-copy of HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES
. Contest runs through Sunday night at midnight and is open to all commenters. I look forward to spreading the love!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Weekend Events

It’s going to be a beautiful Columbus Day weekend! It will also be my very first book signing event. I’m excited and a little nervous, but mostly I’m looking forward to meeting people and enjoying a few more 80 degree days.

If you’ve never been to the Granville Harvest Fair, it is a fantastic event. From the Granville Elementary School all the way up to where I’ll be at the Old Meeting House at the top of the hill, there are crafters, food vendors, orchards and good old fashioned fun.

I’ve been at this event for the past several years with my chair massage booth in the same building as the amazing quilters and potters and bakers displaying their crafts. They even have a bus to transport you from the famous Granville Country Store (their cheeses are found in many major grocery chains), up the giant hill to the apple orchard and Old Meeting House. Of course if you’re looking to enjoy the gorgeous weather, you could always walk the half mile up and enjoy the historic homes along the way.

I’ll be there on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, and then on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and Monday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Normally I would be there all day on Saturday, but I’ll be doing double duty and will be speaking on an author’s panel for the CT Romance Writer’s meeting in North Haven, answering questions about independent publishing. The internet has allowed me to be in two places at one time, but I haven’t quite mastered how to do that in the flesh.

So if you’re looking for a fun fall activity and want to enjoy some Berkshire leaf-peeping, I hope you’ll stop by and visit me up at the Old Meeting House on Route 57 in Granville, MA. You can get a massage, an autographed copy of Heaven Is For Heroes, and have a piece of homemade apple pie with cheddar cheese on top. One-stop shopping for all your favorite little indulgences.

I hope to see you there.