Friday, November 12, 2010

When a Website Makes You Cry

I cry at movies, reading a good book, and today, for the first time, I cried looking at a website. All right, I didn't exactly cry, but I did tear up once or twice.

It's because the website is about a group of people who are amazing, talented, and some of the best friends a person could have. It's my writers' group, and we've finally gone cyber at

Sappy, sappy, sappy, I know. But the truth is we have a lot of fun together even though we all have different personalities and are from completely different walks of life. The key is that we all love a good story, and we all have an unexplainable, bizarre obsession to one day see that story in print with our name on it.

Here's the thing: writers in general are a pretty odd group of people. I mean, who else in the entire world thinks their thoughts are so important that others should pay money to read them? It's not that we're cocky. It's more like we live in an alternative reality where stories reign supreme. Real life is what you trudge through before you sneak away to your laptop and furiously type the thoughts that have swirled inside your head all morning.

Writers also have a desire to see everyone else write—or at least like to read. My great aunt who lived next door to me growing up was a creative writing teacher at a large university. This was in the days when a woman with any kind of Ph. D was way out of the norm. She gave us books, talked about writing, and traveled the world to gain more fodder for her stories. My mother, a microbiologist, thought Aunt Glenna's career was useless. Writing fiction? Honestly, could there be anything more mundane and unproductive?

In the end I took after my aunt. I don't know if it was because I purposely rebelled (all six of my siblings graduated from college with degrees in either math, engineering, physics, or computer science). Or, it may have been my aunt's efforts rubbed off onto me.

Whatever the reason, I couldn't be happier. Sure, I haven't written a best seller . . . YET. That's why I love WritersCubed. They'll keep me going until that day happens.
Monday, November 1, 2010

Talk about it, talk about it, talk about it, talk about it

Over the weekend I went to the "Teen Book Fest" in Provo, Utah. The keynote speaker was Scott Westerfeld, author of the series UGLIES. During his speech he answered a question that has been been floating around my mind for a while now. In fact, I've been thinking about his answer all weekend. (Typically I do absolutely no thinking on weekends, so you know what he said was profound.)

He said the difference between a really good book that sells very few copies and an average book that sells a ton is the ability of the book to make people want to "talk about it." He says if you finish a book and want to talk about it with your friends, the first think you're going to do is tell them all to read the book. They do. Now you talk about it together. It's so much fun, or your opinions vary so much from each other, that you all tell other friends to read it, so you can talk about it with them. The domino effect has begun.

So here's the next question. What is it about a book that makes people want to talk about it? I know it's not sex, because that is everywhere. It's so common it's like peanut butter and jelly at school lunch. Is it violence? Again, with video games that's old news. Perhaps it's multiple elements: a plot with a twist, a love triangle, a character that is quirky and funny, etc. It's hard to put my finger on it, but if I could, I have a feeling I could sell a lot of books.

What makes you talk about a book?

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I'm a mom and author, among other things. I enjoy writing middle grade and young adult books.